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Out Here by Ron Carr:

New tree has special meaning

It is a lacey bark elm.

The journey of how it got there was a long one.

Most of us remember how the vacant lot at Highway 60 and Main Street looked for years. It was used to store old building materials, slabs of cement, even a few old vehicles. It was a small unsightly junkyard at our major intersection, with an even uglier chain link fence.

Holly Campbell's real estate office is across the highway and every time she came and went she had to look at the junky lot. City manager Patricia Phipps said Holly encouraged the city do something about it but at the time it was private property, owned by Hometown Hardware.

As it turned out the Friona Economic Development Corporation was able to buy the lot from the hardware store and TxDOT resurfaced Highway 60 with concrete and made a turning lane at the intersection. The city and the FEDC cleaned up the lot, landscaped it with rocks and xeriscape plants, and installed the nice electronic sign that greets visitors and residents.

So as the landscaping progressed, Holly visited with city manager Phipps and offered to make a donation to purchase a tree for the site. Holly was reluctant to have me mention her tree donation but she is my friend and agreed. Besides, she helps us proof the newspaper every Wednesday so I can't slip anything past her.

As a bit of background, Holly and Danny's daughter Sarah died in 2000 from some surgery complications. She was 20 years-old. In September 2001, about 15 months later, their 18-year-old son Dustin was killed in a car accident. To honor their classmate Dustin, the Class of 2001 planted a tree at the high school in his memory. The gesture meant a great deal to the Campbell family.

Last week the lacey bark elm finally arrived in Friona and the city employees planted it, watered it, and staked it. Holly was there, along with Patricia Phipps, for the planting. She was excited and told me later she could think of it as Sarah's tree.

She will be able to see it from her office every day. She will smile often no doubt and hold on to the memory. Although there is no plaque or other publicity, for Holly the tree has special meaning.

As well it should.

holly campbell photo
City employees last week planted an elm tree in the landscaped area by the post office at Hwy 60 and Main. Landscaping of the area was suggested to the city a few years ago by local realtor Holly Campbell. Her office is across Hwy 60 from the lot which was vacant and unkempt for years. The city has since provided the work and landscape material, including an electronic sign. Mrs. Campbell donated the funds to purchase the elm tree. Thanks to the city and to Holly Campbell and the city employees for their efforts. The area is definitely an asset to the city.